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So what is a Chihuahua?
The Chihuahua, a companion dog of diminutive size, has been known as the Chihuahua Kortaar, the Smooth-coat Chihuahua, the Chihuahua Langhaar and the Longcoat Chihuahua. It also has been called the Mexican Dwarf Dog, the Ornament Dog, the Raza Fina and the Pillow Dog. Chihuahuas have a plucky, almost terrier-like temperament that serves as an effective alarm system. They are alert, bold, feisty little dogs with saucy expressions and playful dispositions. Chihuahuas are most famous for their tiny stature, which arguably makes them the perfect portable “purse dog” or “pocket pet.” They should not be underestimated because of its size. This is a highly intelligent and athletic breed. Chihuahuas that are not properly socialized can become snappy towards children and strangers, and their delicate bone structure requires special attention so that they are not injured by jumping off of high places or being hurt by rambunctious children. The Chihuahua was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904, as a member of the Toy Group. They are consistently ranked among the top ten in popularity of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Chihuahua is not to exceed 6 pounds and ideally stands between 6 and 9 inches at the withers. They come in both smooth and long coats, which are judged equally without preference. Their tail should be full and long, resembling a plume, and feathering on the feet and legs is preferred. Chihuahuas have talon-like feet with long, curved nails. Their coat is easy to care for and can come in any color. Their upright ears should be cleaned regularly. The Chihuahua tends to shiver when cold, excited or nervous.
Breed standards for this dog do not generally specify a height; only a weight and a description of their overall proportions. Generally, the height ranges between 15 and 23 cm (6 and 9 in); however, some dogs grow as tall as 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in). Both British and American breed standards state that a Chihuahua must not weigh more than 2.7 kg (6 lb) for conformation. However, the British standard also states that a weight of 1.8–2.7 kg (4–6 lb) is preferred. A clause stating that 'if two dogs are equally good in type, the more diminutive one is preferred' was removed in 2009. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard calls for dogs ideally between 1.5 and 3.0 kg (3.3 and 6.6 lbs.), although smaller ones are acceptable in the show ring.
Pet Chihuahuas (that is, those bred or purchased as companions rather than show dogs) often range above these weights, even above ten pounds if they have large bone structures or are allowed to become overweight. This does not mean that they are not purebred Chihuahuas; they do not meet the requirements to enter a conformation show. Oversized Chihuahuas are seen in some of the best, and worst, bloodlines. Chihuahuas do not breed true for size, and puppies from the same litter can mature drastically different sizes from one another. As well, larger breeding females are less likely to experience dystocia. Typically, the breed standard for both the long and short coat chihuahua will be identical except for the description of the coat. Chihuahuas have large, round eyes and large, erect ears, set in a high, dramatically rounded skull.
The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom and the American Kennel Club in the United States recognize only two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-coat, and the smooth-coat, also referred to as short-haired. They are genetically the same breed. The term smooth-coat does not mean that the hair is necessarily smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a whiskery feeling. Long-haired Chihuahuas are actually smoother to the touch, having soft, fine guard hairs and a downy undercoat, which gives them their fluffy appearance. Unlike many long-haired breeds, long-haired Chihuahuas require no trimming and minimal grooming. Contrary to popular belief, the long-haired breed also typically sheds less than its short-haired counterparts. It may take up to three or more years before a full long-haired coat develops.
Chihuahuas come in virtually any color combination, from solid to marked or splashed, allowing for colors from solid black to solid white, spotted, sabled, or a variety of other colors and patterns. Colors and patterns can combine and affect each other, resulting in a very high degree of variation. Common colors are fawn, red, cream, chocolate, brown, mixed, white, and black. No color or pattern is considered more valuable than another.
The merle coat pattern, which appears mottled, is not traditionally considered part of the breed standard. In May 2007, The Kennel Club decided not to register puppies with this coloration due to the health risks associated with the responsible gene, and in December of that year formally amended the Breed Standard to disqualify merle dogs. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, which represents the major kennel clubs of 84 countries, also disqualified merle. Other countries' kennel clubs, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, have also disqualified merle. However, in May 2008, the Chihuahua Club of America voted that merles would not be disqualified in the United States, and would be fully registrable and able to compete in American Kennel Club (AKC) events. Opponents of merle recognition suspect the coloration came about by modern cross-breeding with other dogs, and not via natural genetic drift.